Coronavirus: What are the new restrictions?
A series of new restrictions to try to stop the spread of coronavirus in England have been announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
What are the latest changes in England?
Boris Johnson said the new measures would probably stay in place for the next six months.
- Pubs, bars and restaurants to close at 22:00 BST
- They will also be restricted to table service only
- People should work from home wherever possible
- Face masks compulsory for bar staff and non-seated customers, shop workers and waiters
- Limit on guests at weddings reduced from 30 to 15
- Plans to allow fans to return to sporting events paused
- “Rule of six” now applies to indoor team sports
- Fines for not wearing masks or following rules increased to £200 for first offence
What are the rules for pubs and restaurants?
From Thursday 24 September, all pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants in England are to shut no later than 22:00 BST each evening. They will be restricted by law to table service only, except for takeaways. Table bookings of more than six are not allowed and groups can’t mingle. Businesses are legally required to take customers’ contact details so they can be traced if there is an outbreak.
They can be fined up to £10,000 if they take reservations of more than six, do not enforce social distancing, or do not take customers’ contact details. Staff in hospitality venues must now wear masks, as must customers when not seated at their table to eat or drink. The penalty for not wearing one, or breaking the ”rule of six” has doubled to £200 for a first offence.
Should I work from home or the office?
Cabinet Minister Michael Gove told the BBC, “If you are in a Covid-secure workplace, then you should be there if your job requires it.” However, he said that otherwise, people should work at home.
This is a change in advice from the government. In July, the prime minister said people should “start to go back to work now if you can” and last month a campaign was launched to encourage people back to the workplace. The Office for National Statistics said on 17 September that 62% of adult workers were now commuting to their workplace, up from 36% in May.
What are the rules for weddings and sports?
From Monday 28 September, only 15 people will be able to attend weddings or civil partnerships, in groups of six. Funerals will be able to take place with up to 30 people attending.
Also from that date, you will only be able to play organised indoor sports in groups of fewer than six. It will still be possible for larger groups to take part in organised sports outdoors, but not on an informal basis. Plans to allow spectators back to sporting events have been put on pause.
Why are the restrictions being introduced now?
Deaths from Covid-19 remain low – accounting for only 1% of deaths in England and Wales in the week to 11 September. But deaths are rising rather than falling for the first time since the beginning of April. There are fears that rising numbers of patients in hospital will lead to more fatalities.
The government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, has warned there could be 50,000 new coronavirus cases a day by mid-October – leading to more than 200 deaths per day by mid-November – unless action is taken.